Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
Dearly Beloved: May God’s love, grace and peace be upon you and may you prosper in the Lord. Amen!
It seems today that everyone wants to be wealthy, but not everyone understands what that means. You can be wealthy with material things, yet poor in the spirit. Likewise, you can have an abundance of the Holy Spirit beyond measure and yet be physically dirt poor. I would choose the latter over the former any day of the week and twice on Sunday. For, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet has not love? God is love and love is God. Without love, without God, it is pointless to exist and you shall forever feel empty and incomplete. Now, let me be clear…God wants us to prosper both spiritually and sometimes financially. He wants all of our needs met both physically and spiritually. That is a fact. Solomon and David are prime examples of the wealth God can lavish on His children. When you are a child of God, you are meant to prosper. Of course, there are times such as in the case of Job when suffering may be part of His plan. In His infinitely divine wisdom, He sometimes allows folks to be physically poor. Just as steel needs to be pounded and tempered, so too must God’s children in order to gain strength and wisdom.
Now, there are all kinds of ways we can get rich. Through scheming and plotting, using guile and cutthroat tactics, we can climb over the backs and heads of others and make our way to the top. We can take an evil course and through dishonesty and corruption, we can achieve physical, yet meaningless, wealth. I can tell you first hand that that is no good at all. For, if you possess within you even a hint of a conscience, then you will be miserable and lonely in all that you do; for, you will be separated from God. Achieving wealth in such a vile and disgusting manner is called avarice. As one who once partook in avarice, I can tell you that it dehumanizes you to some degree. I was never what one might call rich, but at one point in my life, I was working with six figures – all of it ill-gotten and none of it worth the price I have paid. I never fully submerged into the deep dark depths of depravity. I never lost all of my conscience. There were lines which I refused to cross. And, avarice never sat right with me. It was only ever a means to an end out of desperation.
I despise every day of my old life. I always tried to escape it; but without Jesus, I could not find a way. I never felt happy. All I knew was pain from that life. Only my children brought me any joy and were it not for them, I scarcely think I could have gone on living. Avarice brings death and destruction. It is evil and those who abide in it, abide in darkness. I have thrown away avarice in favor of Jesus Christ – my Hero, my King and my Savior forevermore. I no longer live in pain and darkness. I feel good! I feel great! I feel awesome! For, I abide in the light of the Lord! Hallelujah! Praise His Name! Glory to God! Oh yes, I am physically poor. As I am writing this I have two dollars and thirty cents to my name. That’s not even enough to buy a book of stamps. And yet, I am rich, I am wealthy, I am prosperous in Jesus. Hallelujah! And, I know for a fact that I will not remain physically poor. No, sir! My God is an awesome God and He will provide. Yes, sir, He will! I know that He will meet my needs as sure as I know my own name. I know that He will give me the money and the resources I need to expand His ministry and serve His people. That is the kind of confidence we have in Jesus. The Lord will bless me and prosper me; for I am serving His purpose. I no longer have self-serving ill intent in my heart. I serve God, not avarice and thus, I will continue to receive the Lord’s blessings in abundance. Now, that sounds absurd coming from a man serving an unjust life sentence. I know it seems crazy for me to say such things with authority and conviction. Some of you are thinking I am nuts, but believe me when I tell you, there is purpose in my unlawful confinement. Yes, indeed, there is.
The Lord has put very exciting things on my heart and you will soon see His ministry grow in wonderful new ways. My comrades and I have been given a new mission to go along with the one we already have. Stay tuned. Great things are on the horizon. And, we are going to need some volunteers. So, if any of you are interested in serving the Lord with us, please contact us. God is going to prosper me and all those who serve Him. That is a guarantee. Take that check to the bank and cash it. If you are tired of the life you are living, if you are sick of following avarice, if you want to truly prosper and know joy, then start serving the Lord. I am here to tell you that you can have real confidence in Jesus. When the Lord put these new ideas on my heart, I didn’t ask Him how I would afford them or achieve them. I never told Him that I only have two dollars in my account or that I am in prison. If there is one thing that God has taught me, it is to trust Him and have faith that He will make a way. And, so I have no doubts. I never had confidence in avarice, which is why I failed, because there is none to be had in avarice. It’s phony. It’s fake. You can’t count on it. But, you can count on God. That’s a fact.
Let me give you an example: My pastor, Tom Shuford, and his wife, Terry, are very dear to me and they are crucial to this site and the work I am doing for the Lord. None of this would be possible without God using them and their ministry. They are my brother and sister in Christ and my best friends – the best I have ever had, in fact. I love them beyond measure. Those of you who are loyal readers remember my battle with the State of Maine and the Maine State Prison system over the right to have this blog. They attempted to shut it down and when they were unsuccessful due to my passive resistance and defiance, they began punishing me and fining me. They tampered with my mail and banned Tom, Terry and eventually all religious volunteers from visiting me or any inmate in segregation. There were times when I thought that I might not ever see Tom or Terry again. But, God told me to keep writing and not to give up hope. So, I did just that. In the midst of the battle, Tom took ill and experienced kidney failure and at times Terry and I wondered if he were on death’s door. Neither of us said so, but we were both at one point expecting the final knell to toll for Tom. But, God said, “Be still and have faith” and so, we did. Then, we worried if he pulled through, would he be able to minister to inmates again? But, God said, “Be still, he will.” And, God kept all of His promises. We won the battle over the blog and I was transferred home to Massachusetts. Tom and Terry were still unable to visit due to complications with his dialysis. But, God said, “Don’t worry. I will fix them. Be still.” and He did. I am happy to report that Tom not only has recovered enough to return to prison ministry, but he and Terry visited me for the first time in ten months today. Praise God! He is so awesome! God has prospered us and He will continue to bless us. He keeps His promises. So, when He put these new ideas in my head and told me that I can do them, I knew instantly that it would happen. My incarceration is due to avarice, but my prosperity is due to Jesus. And, I can tell you that since being imprisoned and accepting the Lord, I have done more to help my fellow man than I have ever dreamed possible.
Look at the problems we are facing in this world. They are all due to avarice and a lack of God. People are choosing avarice over love and it is destroying civilization. I live in a country where everyone should prosper. Yet, by and through avarice, we have become a plutocracy instead of a democracy. Just like the Roman empire before us, we have become a land of rich people ruled by rich people for the benefit of rich people. Some of us are left fighting like wild dogs for scraps from their greedy masters, while the meek among us do our best to serve God and help our suffering neighbors. In fact, it is the least among us who do the most to benefit our fellow human beings. And, we prosper in spite of avarice because we serve God, not money. The Roman empire collapsed and fell by following avarice and I fear if my beautiful America does not trade avarice for prosperity, then she too shall fall. May God help us all should that happen.
My beloved, hear me. Choose love and true prosperity over avarice. Choose light, not darkness. Choose eternal life, not death. Choose Jesus! Pray this verse from Psalm 25:5 – “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” Believe it and know it. I leave you with the tale of Lazarus and the rich man with hopes that it will teach you the perils of a life spent following avarice. If you would like to join us in serving the Lord and truly prosper, please contact us.
Luke 16:19-31 ~ The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell[a] from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
May God bless and keep you! May you serve Him and truly prosper! May you choose Jesus over avarice! Amen!
Love in Christ,
(A man who has chosen Jesus over avarice and is truly prospering)